Time to Trim Your Pet's Eco Paw Print Says New Book


St. Bernard by The Consumerist at flickr.

At TreeHugger, instead of being prescriptive, we like to generally offer an abundance of great green options. Yet sometimes, there are some hard truths that make modern green and modern living clash spectacularly. Air travel is one of them -- try any carbon calculator you want, do all the green good you can at home, and then add one trip to Grandma by plane and your numbers are screwed. Well, two New Zealand authors have dragged another hard truth out into the open -- Fido and Fluffy, our favorite household pets, generate as much or more carbon as some cars.

Cats and dogs = big eco paw prints

How do New Zealand authors and architects Robert and Brenda Vale come to the conclusion that pets are as heavy on the earth's resources as driving your car? Here's how they do the numbers.

In their book Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living the Vales says the average dog eats about 164 kilos of meat and 95 kilos of cereals each year. They estimate producing that food takes about 1.1 hectares of land. Riding 10,000 kilometers in a 4.6 liter Land Cruiser takes, they say, the equivalent of .41 hectares of land.

"We're not actually saying it is time to eat the dog. We're just saying that we need to think about and know the (ecological) impact of some of the things we do and that we take for granted," Robert Vale told Reuters.

The Vales say a cat's food requires .15 hectares of land, while a Volkswagen Golf takes just a little bit less - and both these take nearly ten times the land for food production as a hamster. The Vales believe if we really want to take a look at our overall consumption and habits (each human requires approximately 1.8 hectares of land for food, the Vales say), we may want to choose hamster-sized pets.

Or use Fido for meat
The tongue-in-cheek title of the book is not all in jest. The architect pair do not believe that cats and dogs can be easily persuaded to be vegetarian as they are carnivores by habit - TreeHuggers have decided opinions on this subject. The Vales suggest that pets should be "recycled" for pet food. While this suggestion will be sure to horrify many a pet owner, the Vales say as population and resource use pressures grow, we will need to make harder choices about our and our pets' consumption patterns. In other words, not just green our pets, but perhaps learn to live without them.

Read more about greening pets at TreeHugger
Feed Your Dogs, Cats, Horses and Gerbils Hemp Food with NuHemp
Survey: Should TreeHuggers Have Purebred Pets?
Fecal Flags: A Global Standard For Combating Doggie Doo Pollution
Pets: Eco-Friendly Cat Litter
Instant Survey: Pets

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